This is it! The big game! The game that will define our season! The game that will make the difference! The game that will……!
It goes on and on and on and the end result is not what we expect from the team as we are always disappointed. We always go on to make the same mistakes and always end up as the losing side. Tonight it can be different. Tonight we can change this if we want and tonight it is an ‘important game’ and all jokes aside it is a game we need to win. Nothing more, nothing less! Tonight we need to turn our words into action and show the world we are up there with best.
Coming to the squad, most of our injured players are back and surely all would have benefitted from the two weeks rest. The starting team will be important as it will decide as to how we approach the game. Wenger would need to make the balance right.
Whatever Wenger chooses, I would like to see Szczesny in goal. Although Fabianski has done great in recent months, he has been weak mainly in dealing with crosses and in commanding his area. Szczesny on the other hand commands his area well; he is good in collecting the crosses and also communicates with the defenders. Tonight we want all of these abilities as Chelsea are a threat on crosses and corners. Although he hasn’t had many games but he is confident and I feel he won’t mind the pressure tonight.
Sagna and Clichy to occupy the flanks as usual. As for the centre backs, I would love to have Djourou along with any one of Koscielny or Squillaci. I would have gone with Squillaci and Koscielny and put Djourou as defensive midfielder but it is too important of a match to experiment this.
In the middle, Fabregas to play in his position and we can only hope he is on top form today. Wenger says that he is over his mental barrier and hopefully he will show it tonight on the field. Song to start as the defensive midfielder and hopefully he will stay close to the defenders. As Diaby is also back, he should start as he will provide the balance to our midfield.
Upfront it’s time we put van Persie back in his place. The break would have allowed him to recover. Although, I won’t mind if Chamakh starts as he also has been impressive (barring a few games). We just need them to play to their potential tonight. Nasri to start on the left. He will provide us the defensive cover as well as penetration down the left. Walcott to start on the right as his pace will put Cole on the back foot early on.
Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Squillaci/ Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Diaby, Walcott, Van Persie, Nasri.
It can also be Arshavin who starts in place of Walcott as he can give us the directness we require in such games. Tonight, however, I want him to come as a substitute if things aren’t going our way.
As for Diaby, he is great in keeping the ball and his presence helps in controlling the midfield. But tonight he would have to be alert to pick the runs of Walcott (if he starts) along with others. He would have to keep it simple. If we can release Walcott every now and then, we can nullify their attack from the left. We have seen in the past that most of the time Chelsea penetrates us from the left with Lampard supporting Cole, who provides the crosses. If we can keep Cole quiet there will be no deliveries from the left.
As for whoever starts at centre backs, they would need to have proper communication and show minimum of the ball to Drogba. Here Song will come into play and he would have to be alert in cutting off Chelsea’s passes. Early on, it will be a tight battle in the centre and whoever gets the grip in the middle will control the match. If we keep the gaps to a minimum in the centre, Chelsea will be forced to use long balls down the line in which case we can use Djourou’s and Diaby’s aerial presence.
We have to play with determination and intelligence. Organization of the team while defending will be important. Upfront, quick movements on and off the ball will help us penetrate the Chelsea defence.
It all, nonetheless, depends on what Wenger chooses and what the game plan is. But whoever starts all would have to be at 200 percent because tonight we cannot afford to make mistakes.
As always my heart is saying that we will win this one. My mind is saying something else but with Arsenal, I always listen to my heart and I am feeling that we will get the maximum points. Keep everything crossed for this one as this can be the start of great things to come.